Get Fit Dads – Exercise

| June 18, 2014

Get Fit Dads – Exercise
Written by Joe Beiter
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 14:51

Health – People who exercise regularly significantly decrease their chances of acquiring a literal banquet of diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and the list goes on.

Mood and Temperament – Fathers who are caring for their families by putting food on the table, keeping the household in working order, and generally being the Rock of Stability for our brood endure a certain amount of mental stress. Men will deal with the “pressures of life” in various ways. Many of those methods are not good for them or in some cases, their family. Let us be honest, many of us deal with stress through drinking, Spectator “Sports” (ie: shouting at the TV next to a beer and bowl of nachos), or often stress is expressed through anger toward those closest to us. Regular and engaging exercise provides an excellent outlet to release stress without harming yourself or your family.

You will live longer – We are all going to die one day. Life is a fatal disease and the mortality rate is 100%. How long you live and the quality of life you will experience will be significantly improved if you hold yourself to a regular exercise regiment, regardless of your state of health.

You will enjoy life more – Joys of life common to many men include, Women, Sports, Food, and often, Beer. Staying fit and being devoted to a good exercise routine will make you more attractive, it will help you participate in sports (as opposed to just watching), and it will allow you to enjoy the food and drink that would normally turn you into a giant slug.
How do you start?

Everyone together now “I don’t have the time!”. When you become a dad, very soon your pool of time becomes drained by demands of from work, your boss, your spouse, your kids, your house, and then finally you are left with a precious few hours to spend on yourself. There is no doubt about it, exercise requires time and it is very difficult to carve out that time from an already small pie. If you are reading this in the first place (and still reading it) then the chances are good you have some degree of resolve to get into a regular exercise routine. Plain and simple, you need to make exercise a high priority and create the time for it. What I did was make my time in the morning, when I was normally sleeping. I get up at 5am (or earlier if needed) 3 times a week and get to the YMCA by 5:30. This allows me to do a hour and a half workout with time to clean up and get to work. What an excellent way to start the day too! By 8:30am I am energized and probably have the worst of the day behind you. Evenings may work better for you and your schedule. Whatever your time constraints are, it is important to carve out specific times 2 or 3 times each week that you will commit yourself to an exercise routine. You want to make it a habit and having a regular routine will make that easier for you. Set the time and commit yourself to it.

What do you do?

First, if you have any doubts about your condition you should talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

For activities, we are all unique. We have different builds and different activities we enjoy and dislike. I am 6’4″ but I am a complete spaz on the basket ball court. Plus, bad knees run in my family. Even though I may enjoy an occasional basket ball game or walk/run, these are not activities I am designed to do for a hour or more three times a week for a solid year (or three.) I know guys that do though. I am a swimmer. Give me a swim lane with two walls and a couple of hours to kill and I am happy.

Ideally, you will have at least two or three activities you can cycle between. The reason for this is that your body will actually become accustomed to a single activity and you will find it harder to loose that spare tire or beer belly even though you are working hard. Cycling between a couple of activities will prevent your body from getting into a “groove of comfort”.

If you can find other people to exercise with, you will be much more successful in sticking with your routine and pushing yourself to keep setting higher goals. When I found a group to swim with, it made a HUGE difference in the intensity of my workouts and how much I looked forward to getting up to exercise. A big fringe benefit is the friendships that have been grown from this group. I am on my third year of swimming with this master’s team.
So, two things I highly recommend for your new routine: 1. Select a couple of activities you enjoy. 2. Find people to exercise with.


There are different ways to exercise which correspond to different goals. My guess is that most folks reading this are primarily interested in three:

  1. “Weight” Loss
  2. Strengthening
  3. Maintenance

Weight loss and strengthening are pretty obvious. One is you wish to loose fat, the other is you wish to build muscle. I use the term “weight loss” very loosely because if you are burning fat and building muscle, you may not actually weigh less. Muscle is heavier than fat, but looks much better. To a certain extent you can pursue both of these goals in your workout routine. The third, Maintenance, is where you have reached a reasonable goal for weight and muscular conditioning and you just wish to maintain that level. Knowing how your body works for building muscle and burning fat is critical in knowing how to exercise properly. Additionally, it is important to give consideration of your current physical condition.

Weight Loss – Sustained aerobic exercise, which gets the heart rate up, will burn fat and calories. This is where you work off the beer and nachos. It is fine to eat the foods you enjoy (barring special dietary medical conditions) you just need to metabolize them properly. When you were 17, you could burn calories just going through your day. At 40, you need to make a conscious effort to burn them. When I do my workouts, I make sure I do 10 to 20 minutes of sustained cardio aerobics. For me, that is either sets of swimming sprints or a 10 minute sprint on a stationary bike. To realize steady weight loss, you will see your best results when you conduct aerobic exercise frequently (eg: every day or every other day at the most) and you limit your caloric intake (eg: lay off the nachos for a month or two and don’t have seconds at dinnertime.) This, my friend, is the golden secret to loosing weight. “Move your butt and stop eating so much.” If your health is in question or you are overweight, you should talk to your doctor or a fitness professional before diving into an aerobic routine.

Strength – Building muscle requires a sustained exertion of your current physical capability. Although you will burn calories when you do this, your goal is not necessarily to raise the heart rate and sustain that rate. Unlike with aerobic conditioning to loose weight, you want to rest in between strengthening days to allow your body to rest and “rebuild”. When you push your muscles to do more, you tear them on a cellular level. Resting them will allow your body to repair those cells and build them up. Again, you need to give consideration to your unique condition and build. An investment in the consultation of a professional will go far in heling you reach your goals faster. Some health insurance plans may even pay for something like this.

Maintenance – Maintenance mode is where you want to get to. Once you reach your goals for fitness, you will change your workouts and exercise routines to simply match your eatiing habits and activity level. This will generally be less painful as the other types of exercise but you should still plan to maintain 2 or three hour-long sessions each week with some level of aerobic conditioning.

Reward Yourself – If you successfully create and stick to a good exercise routine, you deserve a reward! For me, I really enjoy good coffee. So when I stay with my exercise routine, I buy the best coffee I can afford. It is a small luxury but very effective.

A Note of Caution – If you have not kept up with exercise or regular sports training since high school or college, you are going to learn that you do not recover like you used to. Tendons are not going to stretch and bounce back at age 45 like they did at age 20. You can address that and help it eventually by good exercise and good diet but when you are starting back, you need to be stratigic in your approach. Sure, you may have been the star butterflier in lane one in college but if you try doing 400yard sets of butterfly after 20 years, you will tear a rotator cuff. Once you select the activities you want to do, research it. Make an appointment with an Orthopedist or Physical Therapist. Ask them how you can exercise to enable you to do the exercise activities you wish to do. As a swimmer there are very small muscles that hold the shoulder together that I want to build up to prevent damage to the tendons. I wish I would have known that before tearing my rotator cuff doing too many sets of butterfly. After doing these specific exercises over a year (and recovering from rotator cuff surgery) my swim stroke is better than it has been in 15 years.

You want to make this part of your life going forward, approach it seriously and wisely. Consult a professional even if you are in relatively good shape.

Category: Get Fit Again, Get Fit Dad

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